Bastilla, or also written 'Pastilla' is a North African dish in the form of a sweet and savoury pie. It is immensely popular in Morocco, and often served as a starter for a festive dinner.
Traditionally it is made from Warqa, which is a very thin, crisp and crepe-like pastry. However often brick pastry (a sort of phyllo pastry) is used instead, because making your own warqa is very labour intensive.
There are two main versions of Bastilla in Morocco: Poultry and seafood. The poultry bastilla would traditionally be made with pigeon, but chicken is often used nowadays. This one is always sweet & savoury, with the use of lots of cinnamon and sugar. The seafood pie however is not sweet, but spicy. This pie is often served on weddings.
My vegan rendition of a bastilla.
So for my vegan bastilla I took the ideas of a poultry pie, because I love the mixture of sweet and savoury together in a pie. A traditional poultry bastilla is layered in three layers. Firstly the meat layer, full of beautiful Moroccan spices, such as saffron, ground ginger and cinnamon. Secondly you would find a reduced layer of the meat liquid with onions and eggs to thicken it. And Finally topped with the last layer which consists of toasted (or fried) almonds with cinnamon and sugar. I just love this mixture of flavours and textures.
My biggest challenge veganising this dish was the second layer. Because the texture of the eggs really contributes to the overall experience. During my trial versions I worked with tofu, but that did not satisfy me, neither in flavour nor in texture. Therefore I started testing some batters that would set but still stay soggy (like scrambled eggs). Finally I found my answers in chickpea flour, water and aquafaba.
The vegetable mixture I chose instead of the meat was not too difficult, and I guess it can be adjusted to your own liking. I chose carrot, courgette and lentils. Personally I wouldn't replace the lentils, as they provide an earthiness in flavours, and a richness in texture. But the carrot and/or courgette could be replaced by turnip, parsnip or celeriac.
The idea of this vegan bastilla is to really represent the Moroccan flavours. So don't reduce your spice mix too much. It has to be full of flavours. Check often during your preparations, the flavours should be quiet powerful.
To give you a little idea about the working
It might look like a lot of work, but I promise you the reward is enormous! I was so happy when I managed to make a perfect vegan bastilla. My meat eating partner (who loves pigeon bastilla) was blown away by the outcome. I am afraid I will have to make it more often now 😉
Have fun! Enjoy the process, and ENJOY the food! Please add @haricoco1 to your instagram post, I love to see your Bastilla creations.
Check out some of my other Moroccan recipes;
This vegan bastilla recipe is part of the series; 'Travels of taste'. Discover & travel the world with our senses and imaginations. Meeting other cultures through food. So today we find ourselves in Morocco. Walking around the hustle & bustle of the souks, and discover all the flavours Morocco has to offer, check out my full Moroccan 'travels of taste' post; >>> Morocco - the flavours of the souks